Common Pleas


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Common Pleas

Trial-level courts of general jurisdiction. One of the royal common-law courts in England existing since the beginning of the thirteenth century and developing from the Curia Regis, or the King's Court.In the United States only Pennsylvania has courts of common pleas with the authority to hear all civil and criminal cases. In most states courts of common pleas have been abolished and their jurisdiction transferred to district, circuit, or superior courts.

For some time after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, parties seeking justice from the king were greatly inconvenienced by the fact that the king was constantly on the move and frequently abroad. Scholars have speculated that the king was attempting to consolidate his power and that feeding and financing the royal household could be accomplished only by continually moving throughout the land. Parties could submit a dispute to a court held coram rege, before the king himself, only by pursuing the king in his travels. The barons finally forced the issue with King John in 1215 when they insisted on the following provision in the Magna Charta: "Common Pleas shall not follow our court but shall be held in some certain place." That certain place came to be Westminster, where some legal business was already being handled by the end of the twelfth century. There the Court of Common Pleas, also called Common Bench, heard all real actions and common pleas—actions between subjects that did not involve royal interests. It had no authority to hear criminal matters which were the special prerogative of the King's Bench. The Court of Common Pleas consisted of a chief justice and four (later five) associate justices. Appeals and their decisions were taken to the King's Bench but later to the Exchequer. The court was consolidated with the other high courts of England by the Judicature Acts in the late nineteenth century.

COMMON PLEAS. The name of a court having jurisdiction generally of civil actions. For a historical account of the origin of this court in England, see Boote's Suit at Law, 1 to 10. Vide Common Bench and Bench.
     2. By common pleas, is also understood, such pleas or actions as are brought by private persons against private persons; or by the government, when the cause of action is of a civil nature. In England, whence we derived this phrase, common pleas are so called to distinguish them from pleas of the crown. (q.v.)

References in periodicals archive ?
While in law school, Michael served as a clerk to Judge Krueger and Judge Whitney of the Delaware Court of Common Pleas, legal extern for the Offices of the Governor of Ohio, and Legal Counsel to a Fortune 500 company.
Under the new law, Justice of the Peace Court will be able to accept guilty pleas in DUI cases, but only the Court of Common Pleas will be able to hear trials for those defendants who choose to go to trial.
The Court of Common Pleas set aside the Board of Viewers' determination and entered an order accepting the valuations determined by the County Board's appraiser.
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Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman sentenced China Arnold, 31, of Dayton, Ohio.
An agreement in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas in 1986 required the company to close the lagoons and address contamination on the site.
Garner, 37, received the death penalty after his 1992 conviction in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court for killing the five children, age 8 to 12, who slept in a house that he set afire.
The suit was brought in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
Judge David Fais of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas issued a permanent injunction on the diversion of tobacco settlement funds and ordered they must be used as intended--to pay for programs designed to keep kids from smoking and to help smokers quit.
Sir Edward, executor of the king's will and governor to his son and heir King Edward VI, is thought to have received the collar on his appointment to the role of Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.
He pleaded no contest on Monday to charges of attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangering, and breaking and entering at the Putnam County Common Pleas Court in Ottawa, Ohio.